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A Guanosine-Centric Mechanism for RNA Chaperone Function

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Science  07 Mar 2013:
1230715
DOI: 10.1126/science.1230715

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Abstract

RNA chaperones are ubiquitous, heterogeneous proteins essential for RNA structural biogenesis and function. We investigated the mechanism of chaperone-mediated RNA folding by following the time-resolved dimerization of the packaging domain of a retroviral RNA at nucleotide resolution. In the absence of the nucleocapsid (NC) chaperone, dimerization proceeded via multiple, slow-folding intermediates. In the presence of NC, dimerization occurred rapidly via a single structural intermediate. The RNA binding domain of hnRNP A1 protein (UP1), a structurally unrelated chaperone, also accelerated dimerization. Both chaperones interacted primarily with guanosine residues. Replacing guanosine with more weakly pairing inosine yielded an RNA that folded rapidly without a facilitating chaperone. These results show that RNA chaperones can simplify RNA folding landscapes by weakening intramolecular interactions involving guanosine and explain many RNA chaperone activities.

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